National Aquarium officials are proceeding with their campaign to make the Baltimore Canyon a marine sanctuary, even though roughly 20 charter boat captains, marine owners and tournament organizers argued that it could be a detriment to the local fishing industry during meeting last Friday.
“We still got a fight on our hands, and we’re starting to figure out how to move forward,” said Jim Motsko, the founder and director of the White Marlin Open after the meeting at the Marlin Club in West Ocean City.
A month ago, the National Aquarium launched a petition to establish the 28-mile long underwater rift as its first Urban National Marine Sanctuary. The designation would help protect the rare deep-sea coral and ecosystem in the Baltimore Canyon by restricting offshore exploration for minerals, oil and gas.
Since the canyon is one of the cornerstones of Ocean City’s fishing industry and, hence, its tourism market, sports fishing advocates have been pushing back on the designation. That culminated in a two-hour forum last week.